An Interview with Surface Designer Vicky Webb AKA Crumpets and Crabsticks

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My sister and I haven’t always been that close. I wasn’t the best of sisters as a kid. It has taken a lot of growing up (and hundreds of miles) for us to be the way we are with each other today. Motherhood can and will change your relationship with your family members and it certainly has changed ours. For the better of course. Our relationship is stronger now than it has ever been and to be honest, I am a very proud big sister. I mean, I don’t wanna be all soppy and stuff, that’s not our jam, but I am proud of the things she has been able to achieve and the lessons she has learnt from my mistakes. She has worked hard to be where she is now.

It’s not everyday that you get to interview your little sister. Sounds strange saying it out loud but here I am. So let’s find out who the woman behind Crumpets and Crabsticks really is.

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Brighton Fun. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

About Vicky

Vicky AKA Crumpets and Crabsticks (30) was born in Kent but now lives in the Isle of Man with her husband, daughter and cat. Her interests lie in British culture, general anthropology and watching people, the environment, mathematics and pattern. She largely uses water colour, acrylic, and computer based image making software. She is also a maker of ethical and recycled products.

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What is the meaning behind your name?

Back at uni, we had a day of working on branding and self promotion, and one of the suggestions for coming up with a name was thinking about your favourite things. Crumpets and crabsticks are two of my favourite foods from my childhood. It kind of rolled off the tongue. It just stuck.

Why did you become a designer?

I didn’t see any other possible outcome in my life. I would not be happy doing anything else, so there was never really any other option.

What exactly is a Surface Designer?

The brain gets a rush when you notice a pattern and successfully predict what is coming next, whether this is aurally or visually. I always remember as a kid looking for the repeats in fabrics and I still do it today, almost as a little test. I designed my first repeat pattern in my last year of uni for a screen printed tote bag fundraiser and since then I’ve been hooked.

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Goats- Copyright of Crumpets and Crabsticks

Since graduating I have tried my hand at many different creative avenues, but pattern was always the most rewarding for me. I now apply my repeats to any surface that can take them. I’ve found PoD (print on demand) websites to be the best outlet for this as I can cater to the largest of audience with the largest product selection.

How would you describe yourself/your style?

Chameleon-esque? I don’t limit myself to one style. I’ll draw inspiration from anywhere and try to put my own spin on it.

Which of your own designs is your favourite?

Surprisingly, none of my best sellers. Probably the ones where I’ve surprised myself, either due to a particularly difficult technique or repeat, rather than an appealing aesthetic.

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What skill would you like to master and why?

Networking. I find the whole thing rather embarrassing (I blame being English) and things like social media get a bit neglected, but it’s a necessity in any industry these days.

If money was no object, what hobby would you like to start up?

It’s a toss up between pottery and jewellery making, as they both definitely have a paywall – but I couldn’t be happy making things that their only purpose is ornamental. Therefore pottery would win.

What are you looking forward to in the next 10 years?

Watching my Daughter grow up and seeing how she influences my designs.

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Nursery Prints – Copyright of Crumpet and Crabsticks

What does a typical day in your life look like?

A year a go it would have been – Coffee, staying in PJs, firing up the PC. If the zone can be found – I stay there until the end of the day. Now things have changed, we have a daughter now, during the day baby duties have replaced design ones. ‘The zone’ has not adapted, it still requires commitment – so I work in the evenings where I can set aside a few uninterrupted hours.

If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose?

Probably Discworld, because even though bad things will undoubtedly happen to you, at least they will happen with a sense of irony, and maybe a bad pun or two.

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Pressed Flower Pin Badges – Copyright of Crumpets and Crabsticks

If you could only have 2 pizza toppings for the rest of your life, what would you have?

Pineapple. Yes I know. Mushroom. – You didn’t say I had to have them together though right?

Any words of wisdom for inspiring designers?

  • Don’t give up. Your work will be terrible at first. That’s to be expected.
  • Don’t worry too much about what others think – there are so many people out there now seeing your work (thanks internet) that there is bound to be some people out there that will like your work. Be patient.
  • Design for yourself – don’t concern yourself too much about what will sell, you’ll beat the fun out of it, and you’ll have sold out before you’ve even made a sale.
  • Diversify – if you’re taking the route of PoD sites to fund your art habit make a store in all of them, they all have good days and bad days, and they all attract different types of customers. Just because Society6 worked well for someone – doesn’t mean it’ll work well for you. Don’t be too proud, Zazzle might make you more money than the top end fashionable sites if you play your cards right.

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If I am honest, it’s pretty cool and inspiring to have such a talented and creative little sister. Naturally, she challenges me to get creative, even if it is just for typical sibling rivalry. Let’s just say she helps to bring my best creative side out of me.

You can find more from Vicky on the following links:

Instagram

Facebook

Blog

Shops

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read. Let us know what you think. Do you have somebody who helps you to be more creative? Drop a comment below.

Thanks.

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama

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I’m taking part in the #MummyMonday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

JakiJellz
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July’s Update of Goals for 2018

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As some of you may know, 2018 has not been going to plan. After a steady rise in blog traffic earlier on in the year, things were looking up. However, if you follow me on social media you will know that my mum, who had been in hospital since December 2017 took a turn for the worst at the beginning of March. I mentioned this a bit in ‘My First Year as a Blogger.’ post. Long story short, the blog took a massive hit as I was either working or travelling to the hospital every chance I had. The numbers dipped to an all time low. I wasn’t posting on social media, I wasn’t writing and I wasn’t even using my bullet journal any more. As she began to recover, I did start listening to some podcasts to try and inspire myself to write again and although I wasn’t posting anything, I was getting through the block. When Mum finally came home earlier this month it finally lifted completely. It has helped that I’ve had less work due to it being the end of the academic year.

So, just a little over half way through the year seems like a good a time as any to have a little catch up with the goals I set myself back in January. It seems like a lifetime since I wrote them. Looking back at ‘Goals for 2018’ hasn’t helped my confidence in the blog or even life really. I am nowhere near completing half of the goals that I set. I originally set my goals into different categories: Body, Mind, Creativity, Home, Finances and Blog. In each category I gave myself some goals to work on and broke each goal down into targets to make it more manageable. Let’s take a look at how I’ve done so far.

Body:

I am not sure this will make for an interesting read but let’s get started anyway shall we. Many of these goals are going to be hit and miss.

Fewer Take Aways

  • No more than one takeaway a month

Outcome:   Did not make a tracker for this but have managed to reduce take aways each month. We are not quite down to one a month yet but as our local Chinese has shut and been replaced with a (dodgy looking) pizza and pasta place, I don’t think it will be as difficult in the coming months.

Make better food choices

  • Start cooking meals from scratch again
  • Make time to cook

Outcome:   This went completely out of the window when mum was in a coma. Something to continue working on.

Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch

  • Stop making excuses, get up and do it.

Outcome:   Doing okay -ish on this one. Most days I manage all three. Every now and then, especially during the recent heat wave, we have skipped a few dinners. We have started to meal plan in the hopes of reducing waste and getting ourselves more organised. So far so good but it needs work still.

Drink more water

  • Get a glass of water (or squash at the very least) when you make your first coffee

Outcome:   Until recently I was doing well with this. Lately we have had a bit of a fizz thing. It is an addiction and yes, we are working on it.

Start Yoga at home

  • Get a yoga app
  • Make a yoga tracker in my bullet journal
  • Use yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week
  • Get up early to do it (even if you’re working)

Outcome:   So, I did restart doing the yoga but it didn’t last long. Zosia started getting up earlier and earlier and I found it hard to find time before work. I think I will need to start doing it in the evening instead. I did get an app though, does that count as a completed goal?

Exercise More Frequently

  • Create a tracker to monitor exercise
  • Go for walks with Zosia
  • Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity

Outcome:   Okay, so Zosia and I have been on some walks. Some days we took friends and Daddy. We walk down to town now instead of driving and fighting twats with no children in their cars for child parking bays. But as for ‘exercise’ no. just no!

Remember why you are doing this!

  • Zosia
  • Hubby
  • YOU

Outcome:   Yeah. I need this written on a yoga mat or something so when I want to cry during exercise I remember why I am doing this.

Mind:

Think this one is going to be a lot more work needed. The mental health has been taking a battering but as with many things, a few patches here and there and we will be all good again.

Avoid drama

  • Don’t create unnecessary drama
  • Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama
  • Remain calm in difficult situations
  • Try not to over react to the little things

Outcome:   Drama has been reduced. Trying to stay calm, not always successful but hey.

Be thankful

  • Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day
  • Help others in need more

Outcome:   Trying my best to remember the good things in life despite having faced a lot of disruption in my life lately. We have been doing a massive clear out of the house, a de-clutter to make room for more memories. I have used this as a way to help others more and have been sorting the things we do not want anymore to give to charity. We have done a few runs already but there will definitely be more.

Meditate

  • Regular meditation time
  • Spend less time plugged in. Step away from social media for at least 10 minutes a day (to start with)

Outcome:   Tried a few meditation classes on an app. Didn’t manage to stick with it. I will try to get back to it soon. It is just a matter of time and lack of motivation at the moment.

During the early months of mum being in intensive care, I rarely used my phone other than to contact people. As she got better I did start listening to a few podcasts. However since she has been home and I have been back into blogging my screen time has sky rocketed again. I think my next step here would be to schedule time away from my phone (and not just when I am asleep). I just need to find a way to keep track and find different rewards than using my phone.

Be more positive

  • Think happy thoughts
  • Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal

Outcome:   Staying positive has been one of the hardest things about this year. A lot has happened. Things turned out alright. I will be working on this more for the rest of the year.

Learn to love yourself

  • Accept the little slips and move on
  • Remind yourself that nobody is perfect
  • Stop making negative comments about yourself
  • Be kinder to yourself, you know if you’re doing the best you can do or not

Outcome:   This seems to be an impossible task. I cannot remember the last time I felt like I was happy with me. I think that before I can allow myself some love, I need to kick myself up the arse and be harsh. I am a fat cow. End of. Nobodies fault but my own. Nobody can change this but me. Until I begin to start working on the outside, the love for myself (inside and outside) should naturally begin to fall into place. Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself. Tell yourself you look good in an outfit that is clearly not made for you body type is not doing you any favours. Convincing yourself that you’ll go for a walk tomorrow to burn off that pizza, is not helping. Trying to convince yourself that it is okay to be fat – not good. That’s what I need, honesty. Not a few white lies to make myself feel better. I don’t feel better at all. I need to get up, get on and be real.

Creativity:

I think it is safe to say that I am failing miserably here.

Write a children’s picture book

  • Start with a book for Zosia this year, then go from there
  • Work out how you want it to look
  • Think about what the moral of the story is
  • Make time to get this done

Outcome:   This has just not happened at all. I’ll come back to this later. There are more important things to be getting sorted.

Start Zosia’s scrapbook

  • Enlist the help from bestie
  • Don’t be afraid to commit to it
  • Make note of all the important milestones

Outcome:   Again, I have plans to do this still, just not yet. I am saving lots of bits for when I am ready to start this up.

Keep going with the bullet journal

  • utilise the blog journal more
  • Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty

Outcome:   Right, the biggest problem here is I cannot seem to open my bullet journal at the moment. The last page is from the week before things happened with mum. I can’t find the motivation to commit to those same pages in that same book. I think the best thing to do would be to get another notebook and start again fresh when we have the money. I just can’t face that one anymore.

Create more things to sell on Etsy

  • Scan in work you have already
  • Create a calendar for 2019
  • Scan it in to make a digital copy of it
  • Finish setting up Etsy shop
  • Share the s**t out of it on social media
  • Create digital planners for bloggers to use
  • Write more blog posts about my creative side

Outcome:   Although this one may seem like another fail, and it is in the sense that I have nothing for sale in my Etsy shop, it is actually not a complete fail. I have begun to make things, prints to sell but on other sites. Sites that will be revealed later when I have more things to sell. I have chosen these sites instead of Etsy as I do not have the time or the money to be printing things out and shipping them off myself. There will be more on this later. Also, I need a new scanner as the one we have is no longer compatible with MacOS. I have been trying to create some things with the help of the hubby teaching me to use Illustrator. So I am hoping things will pick up here soon too.

Believe in yourself more

  • Remind yourself that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.
  • Remind yourself that if people get paid millions for calling stuffed sheep and upside down urinals ‘art’ then your few pounds for a hand made print is reasonable enough

Outcome:   I’m getting there. Work in process still. Always.

Home:

I would say this is becoming my biggest success at the moment although, as with everything else, it is still very much still on the to do list. We are making baby steps on most of these goals.

De-clutter the house

  • Go room by room and clear out stuff that either hasn’t been unpacked since we moved in or hasn’t been used in the last 6 months

Outcome:   The process began last month. We’re getting there slowly. Box by box. Shredding old files has begun, packing up our memories to store away and we have been binning or charity shopping old bits we no longer need or use.

SPRING CLEAN THE S**T OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!

Outcome:   Mostly done. Few bits left to do but that will be finished next month. We suffered a major bathroom leak which came down into the kitchen so we need to finish off those two rooms and hopefully that’ll be sorted soon.

Sort Zosia’s room

  • Go through the boxes and clear out the rubbish
  • Buy and assemble new furniture
  • Move crib in after 1st birthday
  • Put up wall decorations

Outcome:   Okay, so Zosia is still in our room and her room is still full of boxes. In the next few months there will be a massive transformation you’ll see, I promise!

Buy better storage and new furniture

  • Book shelf for under the stairs
  • Organise kitchen cupboards better

Outcome:   This too will be sorted in the coming months. I am very much looking forward to writing up about this all again later!

Create a cleaning schedule for the house and put it up in the kitchen

  • Try not to use the word ROTA

Start washing up after every meal.

  • Make this a habit not a chore
  • Stop only tidying up or cleaning when people are due to visit

Outcome:   This is a bit of a sore point at the moment. We are working through some teething problems with housework but as we finish the big declutter and spring clean I hope that it will all be ironed out and sorted.

Finances:

It has taken some time but this has been one of the more successful of goals.

Spend less on the things you don’t need

  • If you do go shopping take your time to think about the necessity of the purchase.

Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future

Outcome:   We have been saving but work for me hasn’t been as helpful as I would have liked. I have had issues getting work when I have needed it, anxiety with early morning (or late) calls and dealing with some unpleasant schools. However for these points we have been mostly successful. We have held the purse strings quite tightly. Yes, we could have held on tighter but we’re working on this too. We have made swaps to the cheaper brands and are working harder to reduce our outgoings.

Blog:

So, by now you should all know what’s been going on and why I have been MIA. I won’t repeat it. The blog has suffered, but I am back and determined more than ever to make this blog a success. I am taking steps towards all of these goals. Some are little steps, some are bigger.

Start seeing this as a business, not just a hobby

  • Think about why you started this
  • Think about a plan of action for 2018
  • Be a full time blogger by 2019

Outcome:   So this might still be achievable, but maybe the end of 2019. There is still hope for this goal yet.

Raise viewer and visitor numbers

  • Promote more often
  • Join more Linkies

Outcome: With my first post back I have already achieved this. The numbers are on the up and although I have not been able to match February’s numbers, I have managed to beat some of last years monthly statistics. If you know of any relevant linkies for me to join, drop me a comment or DM on social media.

Start writing content to cover busy periods so that you always have something to post

  • Compile a list of potential blog posts

Outcome:   I’ll give myself a big tick on this as I already have two more on the go and near completion!Man that feels good to know too. Takes out the stress a bit. I will be trying to get as much content ready for work to continue in September too. I have also thought about ‘Blogmas’ and how I can be prepared for blogging everyday throughout December.

Create a list on brands that you would like to work with

  • Create assets to promote yourself to brands

Outcome:   Bit of a sore point again. I have seen some great small businesses I would love to work with, and some big ones too. However, the other day as I was trying to make my media kit, the time off I have had off has utterly destroyed my numbers and if I am honest, my confidence a little. This is still something to work on. I have begun a list of brands to work with so hopefully soon enough when the numbers pick up again I can start planning my approach.

Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting

Outcome:   We have both been very busy with work and life. This is still going to happen, there is no doubt about that but it is on the back burner for now.

Learn how to create your own subscription emails

  • Set up email list
  • Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up

Outcome:   I will need to look into some courses on how to set this up but I know my husband can help me with creating the emails once I have set everything up.

Learn more about SEO

  • Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself

Outcome:   On this one I have been trying to teach myself a few bits. Hubby has helped me with some of the small blog bits that I have been working on recently. I am thinking about doing a course on Udemy at some point but that all depends on the finances and my schedule after I return to work in September. I am always looking out for little bits to build the website when the time comes. I am working on making some of the assets myself and hopefully come the new year, I should be fully self-hosted on my own website.

Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series

  • Open it up to guest bloggers??

Outcome:   Despite not opening this up to guest bloggers, I have been on this one. I have recently rebranded the series to be’Mama Rants’to help keep the theme of the blog. My February post on Valentines Day (a bit of an anti-Valentines Day rant) has been the most popular out of the series so far. There will be more coming. If you have any things that as a Mama or a Papa that really bugs you in the parenting world, please let me know and I can take a look into it. I think that will also help me to open it out to guest bloggers too.

That’s a Wrap!

That’s it. They are the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year and although I know someone will be sitting there wondering why I have even bothered to update you when I haven’t really completed or achieved any of them, I am glad I took the time to go through this process. Holding yourself accountable for your own failures is a brilliant way to help you move on. We all make mistakes, life gets in the way, s**t happens. It is about how you deal with it that makes you stronger (or not). Life tried to knock us down. We did not let it. I will rebuild. I will be better. I will achieve these goals, one way or another, eventually.

Thanks for sticking with it. If you have had similar set backs let me know in the comments below. It would be nice to hear how you worked through them.

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama.

JakiJellz
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Goals for 2018

As we all know, a new year means new goals, or rather refreshed goals that we may not have achieved last year, or the year before. For the last ten years at least my New Years resolutions have featured weight loss of some kind. Some years have been more successful than others, but nevertheless my weight has increased. Most recently I had lost 2 stone in the run up to our wedding. Naturally, having a baby has impacted my ever increasing waistline and here I sit, writing this blog post at my heaviest. So what’s to be done? Do I repeat the same old goal of weight loss as I do every year, no matter how much I’ve failed? Or do I mask it as something else? ‘Stop eating takeaway food!’?

One of the goals that I have already set myself is positive thinking. So I’ll take a more positive spin on things, I’ll make my goals steps toward positive thoughts rather than remarking on the negative. Having glanced around google, I’ll try to make my goals SMART. They will be Significant steps broken down to be Meaningful and Measurable steps that are easily Attainable. These steps will be Rewarding and kept Relevant and of course I will find ways to make them Trackable in my bullet journal so I can measure the time it takes to achieve them.

To begin with, I’ve spent some time thinking about what is truly important to me this year. Determined not to get stuck in the monotony of the seemingly unachievable ‘lose weight’, I looked for ways to make my goals much more positive. I think this year will be more focused on breaking bad habits. Changing how I think about my goals and how I feel when I don’t achieve them. I’ll need to break down each goal into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. I will need to review the goals regularly to see how I am getting on.  The plan is to review once a month. I will also be looking at ways to incorporate mindfulness into the everyday, a kind of ‘Practice What You Preach’ sort of thing. I will need to think about how I can be mindful of the things I am doing or thinking that will have a negative impact on my progress.

What Next?

As I’ve said already, I plan on using my bullet journal a lot more this year to help me stay on track (keep an eye out for a post on how to utilise your bullet journal for goal tracking later this month). I am in the process of creating spreads to help me manage this. I recently read somewhere that writing your goals down will help to make you more accountable for them. As if having them written down makes you more aware of them, less likely to forget them. I also read that sharing them with people helps with this too. I always share my goals with my husband so that he can help to keep me on track and of course, I am now sharing them with you. I should also mention that my word of the year is discipline and I aim to remind myself of this every time I slip up.

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New Year Goals in Bullet Journal. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So with all that being said, what are my goals for this year? To start, I’ve broken my goals down into six categories. I’ve chosen these categories as I feel they are areas that need the most work.

Body

Mind

Creativity

Home

Finances

Blog

Hopefully this will make it easier to keep organised, to visualise each goal and each step within each goal. So let’s begin.

Body:

I know my problem with food stems from my mindset. I see food as a comfort so I need to break the habit of binge eating, and reaching for the snacks when I am bored or tired. Just looking at the scales is upsetting enough yet still I reach. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t want to set a ‘lose weight’ goal. Instead I want to focus on how I can lose weight by changing some bad habits. I began to compile a list of things that needed to change. I thought about the poor food choices I was making, the lack of water I was drinking, the lack of exercise I was doing and how often we rely on take away food. Then I thought about how to make it positive and achievable.

  • Fewer Take Aways

– No more than one takeaway a month

(Can I make a tracker for this…?)

  • Make better food choices

– Start cooking meals from scratch again

– Make time to cook

  • Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch

– Stop making excuses, get up and do it.

  • Drink more water

– Get a glass of water (or squash at the very least) when you make your first coffee

  • Start Yoga at home

– Get a yoga app

– Make a yoga tracker in my bullet journal

– Use yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week

– Get up early to do it (even if you’re working)

  • Exercise More Frequently

– Create a tracker to monitor exercise

– Go for walks with Zosia

– Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity

  • Remember why you are doing this!

– Zosia

– Hubby

YOU

Mind:

How can I begin to change my habits? Habits I have had for most of my life. I think first of all I need to start thinking about my triggers. I already know all too well that my bad eating habits stem from three things; a lack of discipline, boredom and negative moods. Focusing on negative moods is where my mind goals will coming from.

  • Avoid drama

– Don’t create unnecessary drama

– Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama

– Remain calm in difficult situations.

– Try not to over react to the little things

  • Be thankful

– Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day

– Help others in need more

  • Meditate

– Regular meditation time

– Spend less time plugged in. Step away from social media for at least 10 minutes a day (to start with)

  • Be more positive

– Think happy thoughts

– Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal

  • Learn to love yourself

– Accept the little slips and move on

– Remind yourself that nobody is perfect

– Stop making negative comments about yourself

– Be kinder to yourself, you know if you’re doing the best you can do or not

Creativity:

Last year my goal was to get creative more often and for the most part I was successful in this. I have improved my hand lettering and been braver using water colours more often. This year I want to take this a step further and hopefully start making some money out of it.

  • Write a children’s picture book

– Start with a book for Zosia this year, then go from there

– Work out how you want it to look

– Think about what the moral of the story is

– Make time to get this done

  • Start Zosia’s scrapbook

– Enlist the help from bestie

– Don’t be afraid to commit to it

– Make note of all the important milestones

  • Keep going with the bullet journal

– utilise the blog journal more

– Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty

  • Create more things to sell on Etsy

– Scan in work you have already

– Create a calendar for 2019

+ Scan it in to make a digital copy of it

– Finish setting up Etsy shop

– Share the s**t out of it on social media

– Create digital planners for bloggers to use

– Write more blog posts about my creative side

  • Believe in yourself more

– Remind yourself that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.

– Remind yourself that if people get paid millions for calling stuffed sheep and upside down urinals ‘art’ then your few pounds for a hand made print is reasonable enough

Home:

There are a lot of things that need sorting at home. With the arrival of a tiny human chaos has ensued. So these goals feature a lot of tidying up and organising rooms.

  • De-clutter the house

– Go room by room and clear out stuff that either hasn’t been unpacked since we moved in or hasn’t been used in the last 6 months

– SPRING CLEAN THE S**T OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!

  • Sort Zosia’s room

– Go through the boxes and clear out the rubbish

– Buy and assemble new furniture

– Move crib in after 1st birthday

– Put up wall decorations

  • Buy better storage and new furniture

– Book shelf for under the stairs

– Organise kitchen cupboards better

  • Create a cleaning schedule for the house and put it up in the kitchen

– Try not to use the word ROTA

  • Start washing up after every meal. Make this a habit not a chore

  • Stop only tidying up or cleaning when people are due to visit

Finances:

With money, things are always tricky. Even more so when you have a child. Working part time is proving challenging so I need to think of other ways to save or make money.

  • Spend less on the things you don’t need

– If you do go shopping take your time to think about the necessity of the purchase.

  • Look for cheaper alternatives to the expensive brands

  • Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future

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Inspired by Little Coffee Fox at https://littlecoffeefox.com.

Blog:

My numbers are picking up again after a few months off due to work commitments. However they are still quite low. I will need to work on raising numbers before I can approach brands but I am hopeful.

  • Start seeing this as a business, not just a hobby

– Think about why you started this

– Think about a plan of action for 2018

– Be a full time blogger by 2019

  • Raise viewer and visitor numbers

– Promote more often

– Join more Linkies

  • Start writing content to cover busy periods so that you always have something to post

– Compile a list of potential blog posts

  • Create a list on brands that you would like to work with

– Create assets to promote yourself to brands

  • Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting

– Learn how to create your own subscription emails

– Set up email list

– Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up

– Learn more about SEO

– Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself

  • Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series

– Open it up to guest bloggers??

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Motivational Quote.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So, I know this makes your goals seem harder to reach as there are so many little things to worry about but trust me when I say that breaking them down into smaller more achievable goals as I have done above really does help. I still have the big goals in mind but I know that I will be able to complete them by creating little ‘To Do’ lists within each one. You will feel a sense of achievement if you are able to tick a box every now and then which ultimately will help with some of the other goals. Setting yourself goals is vital to stay proactive and productive in life and business. You don’t need to wait for the new to set or evaluate them either, it just feels good to start a new year with a fresh head on your shoulders.

What goals have you set yourself this year? More importantly how are you going to achieve them?

Thanks for listening,

Love and Peace,

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

2017 – a review

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope that, regardless of how 2017 has treated you, 2018 will be amazing.

For us, 2017 was an amazing year. In February I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing. She has guided our life in a new direction and although some days it feels like we’re holding on for dear life, other days we’re thoroughly enjoying the ride. Every day with her is a gift. She is growing up so fast and I’m sure she learns something new every day! She keeps us in our toes now that she can crawl. She’s quite speedy too when she gets going. Her turning 10 months on Boxing Day means that we are about to begin the frantic process of baby proofing the whole house. She can now wave and can even say ‘bye’. That takes her word count up to four (Mumma, Dadda, Bubba and bye). If you make a gesture to kiss, she’ll lean in so you can kiss her forehead. She laughs at everything! She has 7/8 teeth. She walks when you hold her hands and easily climbs up furniture and toys so that she’s standing. She talks to her toys/herself a lot. She can recognise herself in a mirror or camera and laughs when we play back videos of herself. She’s beginning to throw tantrums too. Little strops if you take something off her or won’t let her roam freely. Soon she will be walking and we expect all hell to break loose. In a few months she will be one and that’s a very scary thought. It’s such a cute stage in her development though. Time is just going by too quickly and if I blink I fear I may miss it all!

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2017 also brought about a change of direction in my career. Unfortunately, many employers won’t make space for mums who are returning to work after maternity leave and who are in need of more flexibility. If I have one regret for last year. It would only be that I didn’t take more time off, even if it meant less or no money. In May I made the hard decision to leave my full-time job because as many will know, full time work (especially as a teacher) and motherhood do not bond well together. Whilst I fully appreciate family’s that can make it work for them, I think I’ve always known that I couldn’t commit to full time work. The decision was made with a tear in my eye. I had made friends, worked with some great people, made it through my NQT with grit, determination and a lot of bloody hard work. As well as all that I think it’s fair to say that I owe my teaching career to a couple of amazing teachers/HLTA’s who, without their support and guidance I would have easily given up in that first year. Naturally I was sad to go but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose contact with these ladies. I also promised that I wouldn’t allow myself to be over worked and under paid anymore so in November (after having finished late October) I became a supply teacher. The money is good, the hours are massively better, I can choose when and for how many days I want to work. The positives far outweigh the negatives in that sense. Yes, there are some really hard days and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but being able to leave at a reasonable time and get home to my family before dark is a real bonus. Knowing that I don’t have to continue work when I get home is good. It’s such a relief to enjoy teaching again.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October. We went to Greenwich Park as it was somewhere we used to visit a lot when we first started our relationship. I’ve always loved Greenwich so it seemed only right that we took Zosia out for her first adventure there too. She celebrated her eighth month a few days later so we made it a double celebration. We wanted to go back to a restaurant we often went to but it had been closed down. It was sad to see it gone but it was going down hill in our last visit. Instead we went to Jamie’s Italian a little down the road. Zosia joined us at the dinner table in her own high chair for her first proper restaurant experience. She was so cute holding her dads hand across the table. It will always be a fond memory.

Being married has been the easy part. Trying to change my name has been the difficult bit. You forget how many loyalty cards you’ve got until you try to change your name on them all! Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is as much a pain in the arse as he was before we were married but he is now, as he always has been, my biggest support. He is by my side through every tough decision, when I hit the 24hr+ marker of labour and the Doctors we’re trying to make me take some form of pain relief, he stayed true to my prior decision and reminded them that it was my body and thus my decision if I took their offer or not. He held my hand through every contraction, every push, every moment of my exhaustion and my sheer jubilation at having finally, 51 hours later, given birth to our beautiful little girl! We stood together by her incubator, hand in hand. He dried my tears as I blamed myself. He held me up just as I felt the initial weight of motherhood pushing me down and helped me push back. He is and will always be my pillar of strength.

We have also just celebrated our first Christmas together as a family and it was just so magical. Zosia made a trip to another of our old haunts (Bluewater) to visit Santa and his elves. Although she didn’t seem too fussed about the whole thing, we will treasure the memories. We took her Christmas shopping and to have her first lunch at Ed’s Dinner. She only had a salad of course!

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Our Christmas Elf. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

We had our first Christmas Day to ourselves in a very long time. We got dressed before presents – something I’ve never done before. I wanted to make sure the photos were good for the future rather than a messy Mum. I know that sounds daft but when I also love to share pictures with our families so I was not going to share barless, unwashed and undressed pictures of me with anyone! Zosia was spoilt over the two days of celebrations. Families were visited on Boxing Day. She now has a mountain of toys and books. My house is awash with toys. My living room is an obstacle course. Luckily I got some nice storage boxes from the MiL so we can at least store some away. She enjoyed her Christmas dinner with us too. There was lots of love and laughter all day. It was perfect.

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First Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

It’s been difficult to keep up with the blog. Trying to find time between working and being a Mum and a wife is hard work. I’m trying to remain creative too, using my bullet journal more again and trying to make some prints to sell. I guess we’ll just have to see how the year will pan out as it goes. I’ve got plans in mind to help keep up the posts. Keep your eyes posted for a post about goals for the new year both personal and blog.

Thanks for listening

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

JakiJellz

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama.

So, how is it Christmas Eve already? Where has this year gone? When you have a child, time sure flies. I’ve always loved this time of year but this year is going to be something special. We’re all prepped and ready to celebrate our first Christmas as a family. I’m so excited to see how she reacts to her gifts. Don’t get me wrong, we’re fully aware that she has no clue about the significance of tomorrow but she gets so excited about new things, how can we not be excited?

There will be plenty of love and laughter in this house tomorrow and that fills me with such a feeling that I’m sure I’ll burst! We’ll document the whole day so that we can share it with her when she’s older and share it with the family during the day.

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions but I’ve enjoyed every single moment. I look forward to what next year shall bring too. I’ll be setting up my bullet journal for next year and hopefully more creative work will come out of it. I’ve got big plans for the blog but it’ll be hard work preparing for it all. I’ll also be continuing work as a supply teacher which I’ve enjoyed more than I imagined I would.

So, thanks 2017! You’ve been great. Here’s hoping 2018 will kick your arse!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all. Stay safe and enjoy it all.

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama and family!

 

Family

Setting Some November Goals

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November Goals. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Guess who’s back?!? YAY! It’s good to be back. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who have stuck around.

It has been a long, hard two months being back at work full time, but now I am finally free. I’ll be working part time doing supply teaching so I’ll have so much more time to spend with my family and to blog. For me, giving up my secure job was a tough choice to make but one that needed to be made. When you start a family, your priorities shift greatly. Compromise is no longer an option when it comes to those you love the most. So I have many things planned in the coming months when it comes to spending time with my little family. We’ve recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary so we made sure to make it a special one that included our beautiful little girl. Zosia’s first Christmas is fast approaching and we want to make it one to remember, even if she wont! We’re planning more days out and about and I plan on attending more mum and baby groups in my local area.

Blog wise, I have so many posts to catch up on but to start lets think about setting November’s blogging goals.

  1. Catch up on brands posts and correspondences (sorry if you are a brand that’s reached out and I haven’t got back to you, you were always in my thoughts I promise!)
  2. Catch up on Bullet Journal things and blogging about it
  3. Write an update post for Zosia
  4. Christmas ideas for baby and you
  5. Baby Led Weaning – our experiences so far (possibly some recipe ideas too)

That’s only five points but it is a lot of work. I am looking forward to getting on with some things now as I have been chomping at the bit. Along side these blogging goals I would like to work on a few personal goals too.

  1. Cook food from scratch so that Zosia can eat what we eat.
  2. Start doing Yoga regularly again, either at home or part of a group.
  3. Get organised for Christmas – including hand making gifts and decorations.

So,  that’s it for me, what have you got planned for November? Are you as excited for Christmas as we are?

Much love,

Monsterful Mama

10 Things That Make Me Happy

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Copyright Monsterful Mama

I know that I have recently done a post about happiness, and those being the three main things so let’s make this one a bit of fun.  Call it a ‘getting to know you’ kinda blog post!

The Ten Things That Make Me Happy are…

  1. Family: So of course this is a given. My little family are my world. You can read about them in more detail here.
  2. Pens: Lots and lots of pens. Brush pens, fine liners, fountain pens, highlighters, bright ones, pastel ones, black and white ones. You name it I will happily buy it for the right price, which leads me on to number three.
  3. Bullet Journal: I love getting creative in my bullet journal but it is also a fantastic way to get organised. My motto before was that I was an organised mess. My style was organised chaos but now with my bullet journal I can manage appointments without forgetting them, track progression of my blog in my blog bujo and get to keep on being creative with the many challenges in hand lettering etc.
  4. Food: I have a love hate relationship with food. I LOVE to eat it … all… but it does not agree with my waistline. I love cheesy pizza, stringy, gooey pizza, salted caramel flavoured thing, peanut butter on toast, a good old fashion roast dinner, cake of many varieties, coffee flavoured things too, chocolate of course… the list goes on. It actually surprises me that I am not bigger than I am! I do have a bit of a sweet tooth. If we go out for dinner, I will often chose a vegetarian option because my husband is a vege-phobe!
  5. Washi Tape: There are sooooo many different varieties of tape out there in the world, and like in Pokemon, I want to catch them all! I use them quite sparingly in my bullet journal but I just love to collect them. They are just so pretty!
  6. Video games: I don’t mind which platform but would prefer the PS4 and PC over Xbox. I used to love Nintendo but they have made their consoles big and clunky and unnecessarily so. They had great consoles with the N64 and the GameCube so I dont know why they had to mess about with it all. I love to play games such as; Skyrim, Terraria, Minecraft, The Sims, Stardew Valley, Starbound, Anno, Don’t Starve, Legend of Zelda, Fallout 4, WoW, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Civilization, Life is Strange etc. I love a bargain on Steam or on the PlayStation Store especially if it is an indie game.
  7. Taking Pictures: I love taking pictures. I’ve been referred to as the happy snapper before. I won’t go so far as to claim I am any good at taking pictures, but I do okay. My degree is in Photography but again, there are no guarantees that, that means I am good. I mostly take pictures of my little girl now but the degree has helped with setting up a few flat lays for the blog. I am currently in love with using black and white film in my Instax Mini. I’m now very jealous of my best buds skills in photography, so much so I got her to do our wedding! Chloe is awesome at capturing the natural quirkiness at weddings. I have enlisted her help many times when it comes to my own photography.
  8. Travel: I haven’t seen much of the world but I have loved seeing the bits that I have seen. Japan has got to be the best place we’ve been. We love going somewhere with lots of history or culture. There are sooo many more places on our list but, what with having a baby, we know it will be a while before we can tick the big ones off. Meanwhile, seeing a bit more of the UK will keep us occupied until Zosia is old enough to fly comfortably.
  9. Self Care Time: Because I have spent so many years living alone, I do enjoy a bit of me time, alone time. It is great to get to grips with thoughts and feelings and sometimes just to clear some of the cobwebs away. I will often take a coffee break on my own (mostly with Zosia though) in a café in town. I will mill around town with no real intent to buy things, although that doesn’t mean I won’t buy anything! It’s not really about buying anything, it is about being by myself.
  10. Creativity: I have always been a bit creative but never really known how to channel it. I’ve tried performing arts, photography, painting etc. I still don’t really know what my creative ‘niche’ is but I am loving the process of trying to figure it out. My sister is an illustrator so I’ve always been jealous of her mad skills for drawing and using watercolours. At the moment I am trying to learn new digital creative skills with my hubby teaching me tricks on PhotoShop, Illustrator and CSS/HTML etc.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little more. Here are my tags for bloggers that you should get to know!

  1. itsallzara.co.uk
  2. http://thismamacan.com/

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

Setting Goals for August

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Set Goals N Crush Them. Copyright Monsterful Mama

Okay, so I know I am a bit late to this but hey, a girls got goals all month long! I didn’t really have many goals last month as it was the first full month of my blog. I didn’t really know what was likely to happen. This month I’ve set myself a few blogging goals as well as a few personal ones. Goal setting is key to helping beat procrastination. I am terrible when it comes to procrastination, especially if the task is work related. Suddenly the washing up becomes of utmost importance or I need to reply to everyone on social media. If it’s not doing the work, I’ll be doing it.

So my goals for the blog this month are:

  • Increase followers on social media
    • up to 700 on Instagram (link)
    • up to 200 on facebook page
    • up to 200 on pinterest
    • up to 500 on twitter
  • Improve numbers on blog
    • Get 2000 views this month
    • Get 1000 visitors this month
  • Write a bank of posts for when I return to work in September
    • Schedule posts to Instagram and Pinterest for this too
    • Create a bank of images to use for this
  • Set up email address
    • Set up email subscriptions on the blog
    • Figure out how to do this by asking hubby
  • Get in contact with baby brands that I can work with
    • Make a list of brands that I want to work with
    • Create email to send out to companies
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Make it Happen. Copyright Monsterful Mama.

My personal goals for this month are:

  • Getting off my arse!
    • Try to reach step goal more often
    • Try to exercise at least twice a week to start with
    • Try to incorporate yoga and meditation into exercise routine
    • Make a spread in personal bullet journal to track measurements and weight
  • Make more watercolour prints
    • To sell on Etsy of not, not sure if people with want that yet…
    • Make some more for baby room
  • Make more effort with my appearance
    • Like seriously! I look a mess nearly everyday!

Okay, so most of these goals are more like tasks on a to do list but it doesn’t matter. If they get ticked off, at least I have achieved them. What goals will you set yourself this month?
Thanks for reading.

Monsterful Mama

 

Things I Can’t Bullet Journal Without.

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Setting Goals.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So, it’s another one of these posts I know but I do love my bullet journal.  So much so I now have two (three if you count Zosia’s one!).  One for my blog and one for personal use. It is a fantastic way to keep organised. Keeping a bullet journal can be as minimalist or as arty as you like it.  So you can even manage one as a busy working parent, keeping track of your little ones appointments and events. I think I range somewhere in the middle.  I have tried to improve my creativity this year and have practised mostly in my bullet journal.  Over the last 8 months I have realised there are things you just don’t need and other stuff you just can’t live without whilst keeping a bullet journal. I may have spent a small fortune in the last months but I have loved every bit of it.  I am always the kind of person who finds it hard to stick to something so I was glad when I made it past the first six months.  So whether you’re someone who has just started or are a bullet journal pro like Boho Berry, these are just a few things you might need and are things I cannot bullet journal without.

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Anime Spread.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Dotted Journal (249 pages) and Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Dotted Journal (121 pages)

As I’ve said already, I use two different journals. One for personal use and one for my blog. I use a soft cover for my blog that I like to carry around with me. I do this in case I have a brain wave or idea that I need to jot down ASAP. I have the hardback for my personal journal as it has more pages and so I wont need to replace is quite as often. The paper in the Leuchtturm can lead to ghosting when using some pens but it will take water colour paints if used sparingly.

Buy Here (249pg)                                                        Buy Here (121pg)

 

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen

I always remember using a fountain pen when I was younger. We weren’t allowed to use Biro back then. So when I realised, several months into my bullet journal journey, that using a fountain pen was a thing, I jumped at the chance to own one. I spent a bit of time researching which one would be best, but also within my price range. There are so beautiful pens out in the world! So I came across this pen and WOW. I am in love with it. I use a fine nib, I would like to get a finer nib too as I love writing in thinner pen nibs. I have often use fine liners instead but they blunt if you use them for everything. This pen is a beaut. I love to do drills and handwriting practice in this pen. It’s so smooth to write with.

Buy Here

 

Tombow Dual Brush Pens – Pastels

Tombow’s are in many peoples bullet journal kits. The range of colours, the dual brush tips, the fluidity of these pens make them a firm favourite amongst many. The brush tips are firm but not too firm. You can great ombre colours easily and they blend nicely. You can also create a watercolour effect with these pens which I love!

Buy Here

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July Review and Hello August. Copyright Monsterful Mama

 

Tombow Dual Brush Pens- Full Pack (wish I owned ALL of these!)

This is really a WISH I had these than an I OWN these. I wish I had these so much. To have the whole bunch would be like someone having every single Pokemon on PokemonGo! The range of colours make it a dream purchase for so many people!

Buy Here

 

Uni Pin  Assorted Fine Liners

These pens are great for those who like to draw in pen. I use them for my ‘faux’ brush lettering, as I haven’t quite mastered it yet. I also use them for drawing grids etc. in my spreads. This pack contains 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8 nibs to help you get a range of line thickness.

Buy Here

 

Clear Ruler

This is an essential tool for creating spreads that need a grid or if creating mandala’s as you can see through the ruler to where your markers are.

Buy Here

 

Mechanical Pencil

I prefer these pencils as I don’t need to sharpen them all the time. You can use them very lightly and they are easily rubbed out where some other pencils (HB and so on) leave a dent or trace on the paper.

Buy Here

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Nursery Ideas. Copyright Monsterful Mama

 

Washi Tape

This should be in everyone’s starter kit! Now, obviously I am bias as I love, love, LOVE washi tape. I don’t use it as much as you’d think. I think less is more in terms of using it in your bullet journal but you can great that extra flare with all kinds of different patterns and colours. This set of washi is a good place to start, especially if you are after a more minimalist style in your journal.

Buy Here

 

Stabilo Pastel Highlighters

These are a little treat! They add a pinch of pastel colour to your spreads that, if you’re not so creatively inclined, can help give the appearance of it. I so often see people using them as a strike through their beautifully written dates or headers or use them to written in capitals behind beautiful script.

Buy Here

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Watercolour with TomBow’s.  Copyright Monsterful Mama

 

So what do you think?  What must you always have when creating spreads in your bullet journal?

Thanks

Monsterful Mama

 

DISCLOSURE:

Monsterful Mama is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk